3/23/21 US U23s play Mexico Wed 9:30 pm FS1, Sun 6 or 9 pm FS1, USWNT vs Jamaica Thurs 1 pm ESPN2 , Sun 12 noon Fox, World Cup Qualifiers in Europe on ESPN+

Olympics 1 Game Away

The US U23 Men can qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 12 years with a win on Sunday vs either Canada or Honduras at 6 or 9 pm on FS1.  The US men will play for tops in the group when they face the favorites Mexico on Weds at 9:30 pm on FS1.  The winner will be top of the group and will face the loser between Thursday’s Canada vs Honduras game.  Both the US and Mexico will be favored to win and advance to the finals on Tues at 9 m on FS1.  Both finalist will advance to the Olympics this summer in Japan.  The US eeked out a win vs Costa Rica at 1-0 before thrashing the Dominican Republic 4-0.  Mexico beat Cost Rica 3-0 and is the leading scoring team in the tourney.  The US needed the heroics of Goalkeeper David Ochoa as he made over 11 saves including 4 spectacular saves to help protect the shutout.  It will be interesting to see if the US goes full boar vs Mexico Wed night or holds back some key players for Sunday’s Semi-Final winner take all match.  With both CB Justin Glad and forward Jesus Ferreira on yellow cards I don’t see them playing and possibly missing the Semi-Final must win game on Sunday.  Either way the centerbacks will need to tighten up as both centerback pairings looked weak in games vs Costa Rica and the DR.  If the US fail to advance It will be the horrific and extremely unpatriotic decision by Atlanta United to not allow top MLS defender Miles Robinson to play – this former Captain of the U 23s was held back because Atlanta United has Concacaf games next weekend,  Hard to believe Atlanta United’s Carlos Bocenegra (my favorite US Defender) would not allow Robinson to represent his country at this crucial juncture.  Hopefully we can win without him – but I suspect Mexico will abuse our starters.  But again Wed night vs Mexico doesn’t matter – Sunday is the game we have to win, then we can go all out vs Mexico Tues night in the Finals to prove who’s the top young team in CONCACAF. 

U-23 USMNT TRAINING CAMP ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN):

GOALKEEPERS (4): Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.), Jonathan Klinsmann (LA Galaxy; Munich, Germany), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes, Alamo, Calif.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (10): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Marco Farfan (LAFC; Gresham, Ore.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; New York, N.Y.), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; Bolingbrook, Ill.),), Austin Trusty (Colorado Rapids; Media, Pa.), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; Colorado Springs, Colo.)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati; Santa Ana, Calif.), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids; Littleton, Colo.), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; Denville, N.J.), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Andres Perea (Orlando City SC; Medellin, Colombia), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas; Hoover, Ala.), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; Alexandria, Va.), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)

FORWARDS (9): Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United FC; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen/NED; Lynwood, Calif.), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; Jacksonville, Fla.), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City/ENG; San Diego, Calif.)

US Men Return to Action Thurs/Sun

The US men with a full squad including our best European players mostly will face off against Jamaica Thursday at 1 pm on FS1 and Sunday vs Northern Ireland on Fox at 1 pm.  It will be nice to see Christian Pulisic finally back with the US team along with Josh Stewart and of course newly minted US midfielder Yunus Musah. With Juve’s McKinney out with a slight knock – it will be interesting to see how Coach B handles the midfield and top 3. Do we finally get to see Pulisic and Reyna on the wings with Josh Stewart in the 9 or perhaps Daryl Dike? Can Chris Richards win a spot next to Brooks at Center Back with Robinson and Dest on the outside?  Who plays the 10 along with Adams at the 6 and Musah at the 8? Should be fun to see how we line up as we get closer to the summer with nations cup and Gold Cup coming up and possibly Olympics if we qualify.  Why not send Chris Richards, Sargeant, Pulisic, Reyna, Adams, McKinney, Cannon?  They are all U23s and would form the best Olympic squad perhaps in the World. Why not win a Gold Medal rather than lose in the finals of the Gold Cup after playing in the Nations League cup in June?

Full USMNT squad

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 19/0)

DEFENDERS (10): John Brooks* (Wolfsburg/GER; 39/3), Reggie Cannon* (Boavista/POR; 13/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 5/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 19/3), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 20/1), Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien/AUT; 2/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 41/1), Bryan Reynolds (Roma/ITA; 0/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 1/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 8/0), Serginio Dest, Barca

MIDFIELDERS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 2/1), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 25/2), Christian Cappis (Hobro/DEN; 0/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 1/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 18/4), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 2/0), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG; 1/0), Adams (Red Bull),  

FORWARDS (6): Daryl Dike (Barnsley/ENG; 1/0), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen/FRA; 2/2), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 34/14), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 2/1), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 12/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 0/0)

US Women to Face Sweden Apr 10 and France Apr 13

The US Ladies will face a pair of top 10 foes on the road in Europe as a warm up to the Olympics this summer.  This roster which includes 20 of the 21 players on the She Believe’s Cup roster could well be a final preview of who will be on the 18 person roster to Japan this summer.

USA Women’s Roster GOALKEEPERS

Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS

Alana Cook (PSG), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Midge Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

MIDFIELDERS

Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City)

FORWARDS

Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Manchester United), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage), Tobin Heath (Man United) is Still Injured

Games to Watch on TV

The 10 day international break is upon us with multiple World Cup Qualifying games in Europe on ESPN+ along with the US Friendlies of course.  See the full schedule below – but Germany vs Iceland gets an ESPN2 slot at 3:45 after the USA vs Jamaica game at 1 pm.  Next week England vs Poland gets an ESPN2 slot at 2:45 pm.  Of course the US games vs Jamaica and Northern Ireland on Sunday at 1 pm on FOX, along with the Olympic Qualification games vs Mexico tonight and hopefully next Tuesday night and the Huge MUST WIN Sunday match-up at 6 or 9 pm on Fox Sports 1 vs Canada or Honduras will have the most drama. 

GAMES ON TV

Wedneday, Mar 24
1 pm ESPN+                        Turkey vs Netherlands WCQ

3:45 pm ESPN+                  France vs Ukraine WCQ

3:45 pm ESPN+                  Belgium vs Wales WCQ

9:30 pm FS 1                      USA U 23s vs Mexico

Thursday, Mar 25
1 pm ESPN2                        USA vs Jamaica

3:45 pm ESPN2                  Germany vs Iceland   WCQ

3:45 pm ESPN+                  Spain vs Greece  WCQ

8 pm Paramount+             Canada vs Bermunda

10 pm FS1                           Honduras vs Canada (winner plays US probably)

Sunday, Mar 28
10 am NBCSN                     Chelsea vs Aston Villa Women’s

1 pm on Fox                      USA Men vs Northern Ireland

1 pm ESPN+                        Albania vs England   WCQ

3:45 pm ESPN+                  Romania vs Germany   WCQ

6 pm FS 1                            USA U23s vs Canada/Honduras winner Semi 1

9 pm FS1                             US or Mexico vs Canada/Honduras loser Semi 2

Tuesday, Mar 30
9 pm FS 1                            USA U 23s vs Mexico (hopefully)  Olympic Qual Final

3:45 pm ESPN2                  Wales vs Czech Republic WCQ

3:45 pm ESPN+                  Gibralter vs Netherlands WCQ

Wednesday, Mar 31
2:45 pm ESPN2                  England vs Poland WCQ

2:45 pm ESPN+                  Lithuania vs Italy  WCQ

Sat, Apr 3

7:30 am NBCSN?                Chelsea (Pulisic) vs West Brom

9:30 am ESPN+                  Dortmund (Reyna) vs Frankfurt

12:30 pm ESPN2                RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Bayern Munich

12:30 pm NBCSN?             Leicester City vs Man City

3 pm NBCSN?                     Aston Villa vs Fulham (Robinson)

Sat, Apr 10

1 pm FOX                           Sweden vs USA Ladies

Wed, Apr 13

3 pm ESPN2                      France vs USA Ladies

US Men Key Dates

Friendly vs. SwitzerlandMay 30
Nations LeagueJune 3-6
Gold CupJuly (dates TBD)
OlympicsJuly 21-Aug. 7
World Cup qualifyingSept.-March ’22
2022 World CupNov. 21-Dec. 18 ’22

USA Men

Musah, Pulisic headline U.S. squad for friendlies
Kinship, connection, belief: Why Musah chose the U.S.  Jeff Carlisle
Record-setter Dest: Barca system perfect for me
Reyna, Sargent cleared to play vs. N. Ireland
Sergino Dest: “USMNT have to set a new standard” 
USMNT announces Switzerland friendly for May

Pareja: Dike is showing the world how much talent we have in US

USMNT, Man City star Steffen emerges as leader in anti-racism education 

Yanks Abroad: Tyler Boyd & Sergiño Dest provide the braces

US U23s

USA U-23 vs. Mexico, 2021 Olympic qualifying: What to watch for By Rob Usry  Stars and Stripes
Standouts Thus For in Tourney
Boehm: Three takeaways from the US’ Olympic qualifying win over DR

US & Mexico clinch semifinal spots: Latest Olympic qualifying results, standings and schedule

Dotson, Mihailovic power US past Dominican Republic at Olympic qualifiers
Kreis hails RSL ‘keeper Ochoa after huge effort in Olympic Qualifying
Boehm: US’ old-fashioned grit bails out tactical ambition to sneak big win over Costa Rica
Ferreira on target as US make winning start to Olympic Qualifying

 US Ladies

ESPN FC Women’s Rank: The 50 best players in the game right now
U.S. women’s soccer calls up 23 players as Tokyo Olympics preparations continue

 WORLD

Europe starts World Cup qualifying amid pause for pandemic
Neuer challenges Germany to throw down marker, Kroos drops out

Lukaku allowed to leave Italy for Belgium camp amid Inter outbreak

USMNT: European-based stars return; players readmitted as COVID restrictions change

Andy EdwardsMon, March 22, 2021, 9:15 AM

Gregg Berhalter has recalled the vast majority of the USMNT European-based stars, including Christian Pulisic, Sergino Dest and John Brooks, for the first senior-team camp of 2021.There have also been some players who can only join up with the team in certain locations, as Nicholas Gioacchini had to withdraw from the original squad but has now been readmitted due to COVID-19 restrictions changing in a very fluid situation across Europe, and the world, right now.USMNT trio Chris Richards, Gio Reyna and Josh Sargent, who all play in Germany, were all due to leave the camp after the USMNT’s first game against Jamaica in Austria, but they are now permitted to travel to Northern Ireland for the second game too.

However, Tyler Adams is not able to travel for either game as he is based in Leipzig and Tim Weah is also not able to travel due to new lockdown restrictions in northern France where he is based with Lille.The USMNT will face Jamaica on Thursday in Austria, followed three days later by a trip to Belfast to face Northern Ireland for the first time in 70 years.Only two players — Brooks and Reggie Cannon — will depart camp following the game against Jamaica as they face strict COVID-19 quarantine requirements upon returning to the countries of their respective clubs.

Berhalter revealed in his press conference that the abbreviated availability of further players — namely, Matthew Hoppe and DeAndre Yedlin — was decisive in his final decision to not call them into camp.

Weston McKennie was left out of the squad due to a “slight injury,” according to Berhalter, who lamented the fact the Juventus star won’t be leading the group next week.

Other notable players selected include 18-year-old Yunus Musah, who last week pledged his international future to the USMNT, striker Josh Sargent, who has four goals in his last eight Bundesliga games, and 20-year-old midfielder Brenden Aaronson, who has hit the ground running since joining Red Bull Salzburg in January.

Full USMNT squad

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 4/0), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 19/0)

DEFENDERS (10): John Brooks* (Wolfsburg/GER; 39/3), Reggie Cannon* (Boavista/POR; 13/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 5/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 19/3), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 20/1), Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien/AUT; 2/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 41/1), Bryan Reynolds (Roma/ITA; 0/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 1/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 8/0), Serginio Dest, Barca

MIDFIELDERS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 2/1), Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 25/2), Christian Cappis (Hobro/DEN; 0/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles/NED; 1/0), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 18/4), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 2/0), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG; 1/0)

FORWARDS (6): Daryl Dike (Barnsley/ENG; 1/0), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen/FRA; 2/2), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 34/14), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 2/1), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 12/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 0/0)

 USA U-23 vs. Mexico, 2021 Olympic qualifying: What to watch for

Bitter rivals meet with low stakes.By Rob Usry@RobUsry  Mar 23, 2021, 5:00am PDT

The dream scenario for the United States has come to fruition during this Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament. Jason Kreis’ side has clinched a spot in the all-or-nothing semifinal round before even having to play hosts and Group A favorites Mexico after winning their first two group matches. Thankfully that means this matchup between bitter rivals in an important competitive tournament is about as low stakes as it could possibly be. The finishing order of the group is still up for grabs with the winner getting the privilege of playing the runner-up in Group B. The U.S. can only take home top spot with a win because they trail on goal differential. Here are a few things to watch for in this interesting edition of the U.S./Mexico rivalry at the U-23 level:

To Dare Is To Don’t

With every USA/Mexico match at any level the first inclination is to throw caution to the wind and go all-out for the win. Unfortunately, if there are any logical bones in Jason Kreis’ body, he doesn’t have that luxury. With the ultimate goal of qualifying for the Olympics, this match means very little in the big picture. He must ignore any desire to puff his chest out against El Tri and be smart when it comes to his team selection. Both Jesus Ferreira and Justen Glad, starters in both group matches so far, are one yellow card away from picking up a suspension. It stands to reason both should be used with a lot of caution on Wednesday, if at all. This could easily apply to any player Kreis deems crucial to the team’s best possible lineup. There’s really no need to risk players for this match when there’s an exponentially more important match in the semifinals a few days later.This is not the time for being bold or daring when it comes to picking the team. Being conservative and smart is the way to ensure your ticket to Japan.

On The Rise

Jason Kreis has said multiple times that there really is no preferred starting lineup for this group of players. He proved that with six different changes to the lineup that beat Costa Rica in the opening group match. One player who is making a great case for his name to be inserted into the semifinal lineup is Minnesota United’s Hassani Dotson. The versatile midfielder subbed on against the Dominican Republic and immediately offered some much needed dynamism in the midfield. Outside of his two well-taken goals, he was a breath of fresh air in the middle of the field. His ability to get on on the ball, offer some quality and push the team forward was desperately lacking for the first opening hour of that match. The question now becomes can he continue that level of play against better competition? If he can, he should play a huge role in the team’s midfield three in the do-or-die match to come.

United States U23s beat Dominican Republic in Olympic qualifier – will advance to the Semi’s

9:28 PM ETAssociated Press

Jackson Yueill redirected Sebastian Salcedo’s cross for the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute, second-half substitute Hassani Dotson added a pair of goals and the United States beat the Dominican Republic 4-0 on Sunday night in Guadalajara, Mexico, in qualifying for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament.Djordje Mihailovic had a goal and two assists for the U.S., trying to reach the Olympics for the first time since 2012.In the second game of the doubleheader, Mexico played Costa Rica. A Mexico draw or win, would advance the U.S. to a qualification match on March 28 against a team from Group B, likely Honduras or Canada.Playing two days after his 24th birthday, Yueill scored just after Johnny Cardoso hit the crossbar. Substitutes were waiting on the sidelines at the time to come in for both Yueill and Cardoso.Dotson, who replaced Cardoso, scored on a right-foot shot from just inside the penalty area in the 73rd minute off a short pass from Mihailovic, who came in for Salcedo. Dotson combined with Mihailovic again in the 78th, scoring on a right-foot shot from eight yards, and Mihailovic scored on a sliding shot from 3 yards in the first minute of stoppage time off a cross from Benji Michel, another second-half sub.The U.S. completes the group stage against host Mexico on Wednesday night.Olympic men’s soccer qualifying is limited to players born Jan. 1, 1997, or later, and each team reaching the Olympics can add three wild-card players.The U.S. failed to reach the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, a setback that preceded the senior national team’s failure to reach the 2018 World Cup.The U.S made six changes from the starting lineup in the opening 1-0 win over Costa Rica, when Jesus Ferreira scored in the 35th minute,JT Marcinkowski started in goal in place of David OchoaJulian Araujo at right-back for Aaron Herrera and Henry Kessler at central defender for Mauricio Pineda, joining central defender Justen Glad and left back Sam Vines.

Yueill was in defensive midfield, and Cardoso, Saucedo and Andres Perea joined Jonathan Lewis in advanced midfield, replacing Dotson, Mihailovic and Benji Michel. Ferreira again headed the attack, then was replaced by Sebastian Soto at the start of the second half.

The Dominican Republic started six teenagers, part of the youngest roster in the tournament.

USMNT initial roster for Olympic qualifying U24’s – Full squad lists, here

U-23 USMNT TRAINING CAMP ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN):

GOALKEEPERS (4): Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.), Jonathan Klinsmann (LA Galaxy; Munich, Germany), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes, Alamo, Calif.), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (10): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Marco Farfan (LAFC; Gresham, Ore.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; New York, N.Y.), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; Bolingbrook, Ill.),), Austin Trusty (Colorado Rapids; Media, Pa.), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; Colorado Springs, Colo.)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Frankie Amaya (FC Cincinnati; Santa Ana, Calif.), Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids; Littleton, Colo.), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; Denville, N.J.), Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC; Federal Way, Wash.), Andres Perea (Orlando City SC; Medellin, Colombia), Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas; Hoover, Ala.), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; Alexandria, Va.), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)

FORWARDS (9): Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United FC; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), Ulysses Llanez (Heerenveen/NED; Lynwood, Calif.), Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; Jacksonville, Fla.), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah), Sebastian Soto (Norwich City/ENG; San Diego, Calif.)

US U-23’s old-fashioned grit bails out tactical ambition to sneak huge Olympic Qualifying win | Charles Boehm

March 18, 202110:01PM EDT  Charles Boehm National Writer  MLS.com

First things first: There’s no substitute for victory, period.When you’re staring at a must-win opening game with a 12-year Olympic qualifying drought hanging over your head, three points is the only acceptable outcome, and the US Under-23 men’s national team got it done against Costa Rica at Estadio Jalisco on Thursday.The win gives the US the edge on their main rival for advancement out of Group A, alongside Mexico, and puts them on course for a successful tournament. That said, they did it in just about the most arduous, agonizing fashion imaginable, allowing Jesus Ferreira’s vital early goal to become a crutch that they leaned on more and more heavily as the 90-degree Guadalajara evening unfolded.OK, correction – the young Yanks also did some heavy reclining on the willing back of goalkeeper David Ochoa, the fourth-youngest player on their roster and a surprise starter considering that his San Jose Earthquakes counterpart JT Marcinkowski had for some time been expected to be the No. 1. Without Ochoa’s whopping nine saves – a couple of them denying clear, inviting Tico looks at goal – the United States would’ve been stranded as they wilted under the warm Mexican sun.“It wasn’t great,” admitted coach Jason Kreis in his postgame press conference. “It was an important result for us but I would say that we would have hoped to have gotten that result in a little bit of a better fashion. I think we would have hoped that we could have been better on the ball and made better decisions and maintained the tempo of the game better.”With a dominantly MLS-based squad and the league starting its 2021 six weeks later than usual, most of Kreis’ players haven’t put on a match kit in months, and it showed, though sooner for some than others. Add in the usual big-game jitters and an ambitious pass-and-press tactical blueprint handed down from the senior USMNT, and you had a recipe for tension, and a long, slow fade as gas tanks steadily ran dry for the team in blue.“Without a doubt, I think that the system that we’re playing is a very difficult one, it requires a lot of energy, it requires a lot of running, it requires the players to be calm on the ball,” said Kreis. “It’s not easy to be a team that’s looking to build out of the back or maintain possession of the game, this isn’t the easy way to play. The easy way to play is to be reactive and counterattack. But again, it’s not our DNA and ultimately we’re going to continue forward with this identity.”Multiple generations of US transition aces like Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan might take issue with that bit about DNA, and Costa Rica would (and did) point to the match statistics that showed them to be superior in passing, possession, shooting and pretty much every other category except the final score.But whether it was their plan all along or not, Kreis’ side burst out of the gates with more intensity from the opening kickoff – Ferreira could easily have had a first-half hat trick, hitting the post and flubbing a 1v1 with Ticos ‘keeper Kevin Chamorro – and the advantage that it carved out for them was ultimately, barely enough.Kreis has made clear that he embraces an assertive, pass-happy philosophy just as much as senior side boss Gregg Berhalter does. But that imposes a smaller margin for error in high-stakes tournament settings like this one and his players shrank it further with some slack passing and excessively casual buildouts, forcing them to bear down, bleed the clock and ride their luck.“It’s not surprising to me, because we were asking our team to build up. I think it may have been a different affair if we would have just said OK, every goal kick we get we’re going to take long, we’re going to push into the opponent’s half and fight for second balls, but that’s not part of our DNA,” asserted Kreis. “That’s not who we are. And so we asked to build up. The majority of the shakiness that I saw came through just mistakes in buildup. So again, I think that’s just a footballing issue.“Part of guys not playing matches is that it’s not just about fitness, it’s also about their touch on the ball. So I felt that the majority of what Costa Rica did to hurt us was in transition, when we gave the ball away very cheaply.”Which leads us back to arguably the most enduring, influential meta-question facing the USMNT in this century: How to sustain the quest for a more sophisticated mastery of progressive play without losing the gutsy, tenacious defiance of old? Berhalter and Kreis’ predecessors wrestled with it, and now it sits squarely on their plates, too.There will be more time and bandwidth for all involved to address that in the months ahead, once passage to the Tokyo Olympics (and eventually, World Cup 2022) is attained. First these U-23s have to reach this month’s tournament final, and though they at times looked like your uncle’s creaky Volvo station wagon with just enough change in the ashtray to fill ‘er up, they made it to their first milepost.

U.S. Olympic qualifying standouts so far; Assembling a 2nd all-MLS side

Nicholas Mendola

Mon, March 22, 2021, 4:13 PMThe United States men’s U-23 team has failed to capture the imagination so far in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, but their pair of wins has delivered some standout performers.

Jason Kreis’ men were arguably second-best in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica to begin the tournament In Mexico (READThree things learned), the same Los Ticos team who would later lose 3-0 to El Tri — and then struggled for an hour before turning to familiar faces in a 4-0 win over the Dominican Republic (READThree more things).

[ MORE: The latest PL transfer buzz ]

But here are the players who’ve stood out in the Yanks’ 2-0 start. And yes, three of the four are on the score sheet but in the words of Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from “The Wire,” they earned these mentions like a… midfielders.

More USMNT news

NYCFC signs USYNT left back Gloster from PSV Eindhoven USMNT, Man City star Steffen emerges as leader in anti-racism education USMNT: European-based stars return; players readmitted as COVID restrictions…

Hassani Dotson, Minnesota United

Those of us who haven’t caught a ton of Loons action the past couple of years and wondered why the name Hassani Dotson kept coming up now have a good understanding of why.

He’s looked confident if not cocky, and that swagger combined with a unique physical skill set and plenty of good on-field reading to produce moments like this thread, where he turns in a congested area and keeps himself available to spring an attack and play a role further up the pitch.

The second video is even better, going man amongst boys versus two Ticos before showing vision and touch to spring a would-be goal.

Played 270 of 360 minutes in CONCACAF Nations League, going the distance in 7-0 and 4-0 wins over Cuba and a 4-1 defeat of Canada. Gregg Berhalter left him on the bench in favor of Michael Bradley and Cristian Roldan in the fourth game and that was a 2-0 loss in Canada.

Whether that’s coincidence or truth, every one of Yueill’s nine full USMNT caps are written all over on the grass during this tournament. He looks well above the fray and both deservingly and fittingly broke the Yanks through versus Dominican Republic.

Djordje Mihailovic, Chicago Fire

This one also feels a bit like cheating, although he doesn’t have the same level of USMNT impact in his back pocket that lives in Yueill.

Mihailovic has played 71 MLS matches with seven goals and 11 assists at age 22, and the playmaking plays the kind of balls that give lesser-experienced players fits.

But there’s no denying the six-times capped Mihailovic is delivering in the final third, posting a goal and two assists in the final 17 minutes on Sunday.

Justen Glad, Real Salt Lake

Unquestionably the Yanks’ best center back, the RSL stud did have a bad giveaway against Costa Rica but was instrumental in so many moments that saved a goal.

Honorable mention

  • Sam Vines, Colorado Rapids — Has looked quite good going forward but defensive duties few and far between.
  • David Ochoa, Real Salt Lake — A ton of saves in the opener against Costa Rica, but a couple dodgy moments, too.

USA vs. Jamaica, 2021 friendly: Scouting Jamaica

The USMNT faces off against a familiar CONCACAF opponent. By Brendan Joseph  Mar 23, 2021, 6:00am PDT

he United States Men’s National Team heads to Austria for a friendly against a CONCACAF foe. It is at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt where Gregg Berhalter’s team will take on Jamaica in the first of two matches on this European tour. With a big summer on the horizon for the senior and U-23 squads, this camp is one of the final opportunities for players to prove themselves and work their way into the overall picture.The United States has a 16-3-8 all-time record against Jamaica. The Caribbean nation was most recently in action last November, playing two friendlies against Saudi Arabia, losing the first, 0-3, and winning the second, 2-1. The Reggae Boyz, traditionally one of the better teams in CONCACAF, are looking to qualify for their second-ever World Cup, the only appearance coming in 1998.Jamaica is led by Theodore Whitmore, who has been with the program for over a decade as an interim (2007, 2009), assistant (2008), youth coach (2014-2015), and senior team manager (2009-2013, 2016-present). Since his return to the top role, he has a 20-10-8 record. The stalwart reached the final and semifinal round of the 2017 and 2019 editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, respectively.Whitmore called in a 20-player roster for the match against the United States, with several potential additions held out by visa issues. The squad is split evenly between nine players registered to Jamaican clubs and ten competing at various levels in the English pyramid. The domestic players “have not featured in a game since the coronavirus forced a halt to the National Premier League last March,” and there will be limited training sessions before the friendly.

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GOALKEEPERS (3): Jeadine White (Cavalier FC), Kemar Foster (Portmore United), Shaven Paul (Mount Pleasant)

DEFENDERS (8): Adrian Mariappa (Bristol City), Michael Hector (Fulham), Curtis Tilt (Wigan Athletic), Amari’i Bell (Blackburn Rovers), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford), Liam Moore (Reading), Wes Harding (Rotherham United), Renaldo Wellington (Montego Bay United)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Ricardo Morris (Portmore United), Omar Holness (Darlington), Kevaughn Isaacs (Mount Pleasant), Luca Levee (Harbour View), Kasey Palmer (Bristol City)

FORWARDS (4): Andre Gray (Watford), Chavany Willis (Portmore United), Jabari Hylton (University of the West Indies Football Club), Jamal Lowe (Swansea City)

***

The roster is without several regular players in the midst of a contract dispute with the federation. The ongoing negotiations have been “more difficult” than originally presumed, as the salary dispute almost led to a strike during the November matches against Saudi Arabia. Resolving the situation is a priority with the Gold Cup and, more importantly, World Cup qualifying drawing closer.Despite the shortage, Jamaica pulled out almost all the stops for this friendly, calling in several newcomers based in England. Top additions include Andre Gray from Watford and Reading’s Liam Moore. Occasional England call-up Michail Antonio was expected to receive a call-up after recently committing to the Reggae Boyz, but the West Ham striker was not included in the roster.

The national federation is pushing the mildly controversial plan to include more England-born players in the squad, referred to as “UB40s” after the Birmingham reggae band. “Once their heart is with Jamaica, nothing else can stop it,” declared Whitmore. Talents such as red hot Brentford striker Ivan Toney, Damari Gray, Max Aarons, Kemar Roofe, Isaac Hayden, and Mason Holgate are currently on the radar, welcome to join for qualifying.

Traditionally, Whitmore prefers the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 formations, although the 4-1-4-1 was deployed in the recent friendlies against Saudi Arabia. The Jamaican defensive depth chart is loaded: a stacked group that, when fully utilized, is possibly CONCACAF’s best. With so many regulars missing, there is an impulse to simply throw out the 11 most talented players and see how they compete together.The goalkeeper position is a toss-up between youngster Jeadine White and veteran Shaven Paul, both with two career senior international appearances. The former, a 20-year-old with Cavalier SC, should get the start, as he is a frequent member of the squad and was on the bench for November’s friendly victory over Saudi Arabia. His strength is acrobatic shot-stopping, with the 6’1” Kingston native preferring to stay within the goal area.The definite starter at center back is Michael Hector, one of the roster’s star players who could carry Jamaica through qualifying. The towering Fulham defender is a regular with the national team and played in both friendly matches against Saudi Arabia. Do not be surprised if the 28-year-old lines up at defensive midfielder, as this squad’s embarrassment of back line riches may force a few mildly awkward moves in the formation.

His partner will be a first-time call-up, with three options jumping off the page. Reading’s Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock of Brentford, and Curtis Tilt currently on loan at Wigan Athletic are recent additions bringing real experience to the national team’s center back depth chart. Pinnock is the likely starter, as he almost led his club to promotion last season and is once again on pace for a spot in the Championship playoffs. The “solid performer” is a physical presence that wreaks havoc on opposing attackers and in the final third, providing a marking challenge on set pieces.Adrian Mariappa is the most experienced member of this squad, with 49 caps since making his debut in 2012. The 34-year-old Bristol City defender is a center back at the club level but has mostly played as a right back for the Reggae Boyz. He is a distributor of well-timed tackles and something of a threat on dead balls, although the glory years at Watford are firmly in the past. Amari’i Bell, another veteran of the English pyramid, should line up at left back. In his fourth year with Blackburn Rovers, the Burton-on-Trent native pushes high up the field and can also serve as a winger.The central trio is tasked with the challenge of not being overrun by their dynamic American opponents. Kevaughn Isaacs, a 25-year-old with five caps, will set the tone for the Reggae Boys. The Mount Pleasant defensive midfielder is the start of most possession and has the tendency to push into the attacking half with a long dribbling run or disruptive tackle. His holding partner, the lanky Chavany Willis of domestic Portmore United, is an aggressive player with a tendency to roam all over the field, buzzing with constant involvement in the build-up. Omar Holness, currently in the sixth-tier National League North at Darlington, must provide the creative spark. The 27-year-old loves the long ball and can be a target in the box.A recent, dangerous addition to the program is Swansea man Jamal Lowe. Whether deployed at striker or out wide, the quick 26-year-old pressures the back line and is a menace in the final third. The exciting, technical player can do it all: dancing through crowds, playing quick passes, and scoring. The other winger should be Ricardo Morris, a left-footed 28-year-old with 29 caps. Based at Portmore United, the dynamic attacker pushes the tempo at a frenetic pace and constantly challenges the opposing goalkeeper with unexpected shots. However, his role will likely be more in support, as the national team brought in a top talent to lead the formation.The Jamaican Football Federation worked overtime to attract striker Andre Gray, a player that could lift the nation’s fortune in qualifying. The 29-year-old Watford man is rounding into form in the midst of a down year, scoring three goals in five matches following a hamstring injury and months of low production. If his teammates can find him in advantageous positions, even a single yard of space, he will convert. The American back line must maintain constant awareness of the former England C international that is always on the lookout for a break forward.This Jamaican roster is many things. There are several experienced players, with deep ties to storied English clubs, paired next to a group of largely unknown domestic talents. However, the absence of the national team’s core – Kemar Lawrence, Alvas Powell, Dwayne Miller, and Leon Bailey, among others – will be missed. The friendly offers a partial glimpse into a squad that could qualify for the World Cup provided they are able to gel and accept regular call-ups throughout the course of CONCACAF qualifying.The United States should win this match, although the opponent is more of a challenge than it appears on the surface. Expect a wide open affair featuring plenty of counter attacking. With Jamaica fully embracing dual-national players, perhaps this is the first look at a growing regional power about to take the first step into the top tier of CONCACAF.The match is scheduled for Thursday, March 25th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Pacific. Viewing options include ESPN 2, UniMás, TUDN, and Fubo TV (free trial).

Why Yunus Musah chose the USMNT: Kinship with stars, connection with coaches and belief in the project

Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent EPSNFC

The recruitment battle for dual national talents is one that every coach is familiar with, which is why March 4 may go down as a day to remember for the United States men’s team. It was on that day that manager Gregg Berhalter received a text from Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah with a simple request: “Coach, can I talk to you?”

Berhalter said yes. At that point, Musah — who, in addition to the U.S., was eligible to represent GhanaEngland or Italy — informed him that he would be pledging his international future to the red, white and blue.

– Valencia’s Musah picks USMNT over England
– Lowe: Musah’s rise for Valencia, U.S. is no fluke

“It was quite a happy conversation,” Musah told ESPN in an exclusive interview. “I told [Berhalter] I appreciate everything and how he welcomed me to the team, and I just want to embark on this journey with everyone else and the USA.”Berhalter wasn’t as composed. While this was the latest recruiting coup of a player with multiple international options, a list highlighted by Barcelona defender Sergino Dest, Musah is looked upon as another special talent.”I screamed into the phone. I gave a loud ‘Yeah!'” Berhalter told ESPN. “But it was good. It’s not only judging him as a player, just as a person. It’s great to have someone like that in your team.” When one country wins out on a player with multiple international options, the others lose. It is a zero-sum game that, in some instances, forces players to feel like they’re torn in two. The 18-year-old’s ties to England in particular ran deep, as he not only lived in London starting at age 9, but played extensively for the Three Lions at youth level, though never in official competition. Musah even took the field twice for England against the U.S. at the under-17 level, including the 2017 Nike friendlies in which England prevailed 1-0. In this case, the Valencia midfielder isn’t walled off from the emotions that came with saying no to England. And there were other suitors as well.”It was a difficult situation, as England have done so much for me,” he said. “When someone’s nice to you, you don’t want to kind of leave them upside down. But at the end, you have to make the best decision for yourself.”I was getting so many phone calls from a lot of diferent people, a lot of different organizations. And that sort of made it hard, and also the fact that I represented England in the past. That’s why it was a really hard decision to make.”

But he added, “This is just so exciting. I can’t wait to get started.”Thus concluded a 20-month recruiting process by the U.S. to win Musah over, one that was pitch-perfect every step of the way. It started soon after Musah signed with Valencia in the summer of 2019, when the Spanish club notified Nico Estevez, a U.S. men’s assistant (and former Valencia coach), that there was a player with a U.S. passport on the roster. Berhalter soon reached out with a get-to-know-you phone call to make Musah aware of the U.S. team’s interest. That call eventually opened the door for a meeting with the player’s family to discuss the U.S. program in more depth.Like most recruiting battles, relationships played a key role, and the bond between Musah and Estevez took on immense importance. Musah says that from the moment the U.S. first made contact, he and Estevez spoke at least once every two weeks. Berhalter added that there were times when his assistant and the player spoke as often as every other day.Estevez’s knowledge of Valencia helped Musah navigate his way through his first season with the club’s B-team, as well the player’s initial foray with the first team in the 2020-21 campaign. He helped him adapt to life in a new country as well: Estevez would talk Musah through his games and send him video clips. Berhalter recalled that the level of trust between the two was such that Musah began soliciting advice and video from Estevez instead of the U.S. assistant being the one to reach out.”We just speak as people, really,” Musah said of his relationship with Estevez. “He didn’t really treat it as player-coach or something — more just friends, you could say. He talked to me about how my week is going. He helped me analyze and improve my game. He understands some of the things that I’m going through.”By the time Berhalter invited Musah to a national team training camp in Wales last November, much of the groundwork had been laid, but there was still work to be done. Fortunately for the U.S., a wave of talented players have entered the program in recent years, including Juventus‘ Weston McKennieRB Leipzig‘s Tyler AdamsBorussia Dortmund‘s Gio Reyna and Dest. They made sure that Musah arrived to a warm embrace.

The positive vibes paid off, and if there was ever a telltale sign that Musah was leaning towards the U.S., it was evident in the pregame team photo ahead of his international debut against Wales last November. These photos are usually about players having their game face on, all intensity and concentration. That was largely the case here, save for Musah, who sported the widest of smiles.

“I told myself, ‘Listen, just enjoy this moment, because it only comes once,'” he said. “And surprisingly enough, the coaches as well told me the same thing, the players told me the same thing and so what I was thinking about was enjoying the game. And as you can see in the photos, I was enjoying it already.”Musah delivered an impressive debut, helping the U.S. control the match from the center of midfield in what ended up being a 0-0 draw. That role is a change from where he has been typically deployed with Valencia, where he’s mostly played as a wide midfielder in a 4-4-2. But the center of midfield is where he — and Berhalter — feel he’s best-suited. It gives him the chance to show off his range of skills: his confidence running with the ball, his vision when it comes to connecting on his passes and his energy on defense.

“I feel like I can play in a lot of systems,” he said. “But particularly with the U.S., I feel like we want to be on the field and express ourselves. And when you’re on the field and trying to express yourself, I think the best version of yourself comes out. And that’s really important.”Granted, it wasn’t just about Musah choosing the U.S. The player also had to impress beyond what happened on the field, but Musah passed those tests with ease.”He endears himself to everyone,” said Berhalter about Musah. “He’s such a good guy, such a friendly guy to be around; great demeanor, great attitude. The thing about him is when you’re around him, you can just feel this warmth from him.”Musah was also all-in on the U.S. team’s anti-racism message before the Wales game, one in which his warm-up jacket had the message “United As One.””A lot of people talk about racism and how they don’t like it, but not everyone does something about it,” he said. “And the fact that we decided to do something about it was a real big thing, and I definitely wanted to be involved and be a part of it. So, I wrote my own message ‘United as One,’ because no one should have to go through that alone. We’re together in this.”The friendly matches cemented the bond, as the U.S. went on to beat Panama 6-2 in the second match of that international window. The U.S. staff and players didn’t let up with their recruiting pitch, as evidenced by the flow of communication between Musah and his U.S. teammates on Twitter and Instagram. But the hard work had been done.”I think [about] the amount of time and effort that Gregg and the staff put into it, always contacting me since last year, and also get me to come to camp, and see how it goes,” he said. “Everyone was really welcoming. Everyone was great, like it was as if we’ve seen each other or met each other before. And that that helps me because I’m new, and they welcomed me really well. In the end, we played two games really well and also had fun.”

Berhalter is quick to remind everyone that Musah is 18. There is a lot of growing left to be done, but the U.S. manager also can’t help but be excited by what the future could look like.”With a lot of our players, they’re really young, so we have to just keep that in mind when we’re projecting,” he said. “But what I see from [Musah] is just a tremendous dynamic with his speed and quickness, and then he’s technically a very good player. He’s open to learning, so to me, he has a really high ceiling.”Musah is one of those players who appreciates every ounce of his success so far. He was born in New York City while his family was vacationing there, which made him eligible for U.S. citizenship. Musah spent his early childhood in the northern Italian town of Castelfranco Veneto near Venice. His earliest soccer memories are of walking to a nearby park and squaring off against his older brothers, Abdul and Nabil.

By the time the family moved to east London when Musah was 9, the game was already in his blood, and it helped him adapt to a new country and culture. He soon joined Arsenal’s academy and rose through the ranks before departing for Valencia when he was 16. The reason was simple: He saw an easier path to first-team minutes in Spain than he did with the Gunners, but everywhere he went, he took that positive attitude with him.”I think my parents and the culture that we’ve been around, I think that told me to be happy with little, if you say,” Musah said. “I feel like whenever there’s anything that’s bigger than a little, I say, ‘I’m most happy about that.’ I like to be grateful for everything in life, and whatever comes about. This is how I am.”That approach has served Musah well in a league season in which he experienced the high of his first La Liga goal against Getafe last November, as well as some lows that have seen him reduced to a substitute’s role.”It’s been tough,” he says. “It’s not the ideal thing obviously. You want to always have ups and have great games and win and win. But football isn’t like that, and if you understand that, then I think that’s the main thing, just keep working and working. Then you’re going to have more ‘ups’ potentially. You can’t give up. You have to keep working and keep trying to improve. And as a young player, I’m very young in my career, I think it’s great to take this as a learning experience, and made sure I learn from it.”Berhalter has long said he wanted to make sure that when a dual national chooses the U.S., they do it for the right reasons, and that they feel a connection to the country. The U.S. manager says that in Musah, he “really sensed how proud he was to be an American.”But beyond Musah’s play on the field and his body language around the U.S. team, there was a more subtle indication. His use of “we” readily and naturally when referring to the U.S. team flowed easily, showing his unforced connection to this group. While their journey has a long distance left to run, with the 2022 World Cup looming just over the horizon, the U.S. team’s latest recruit is definitely on board.

U.S. Men’s Soccer Key Dates

Olympic qualifyingMarch 18-30
Friendly vs. JamaicaMarch 25
Friendly vs. N. IrelandMarch 28
Friendly vs. SwitzerlandMay 30
Nations LeagueJune 3-6
Gold CupJuly (dates TBD)
OlympicsJuly 21-Aug. 7
World Cup qualifyingSept.-March ’22
2022 World CupNov. 21-Dec. 18 ’22

USWNT’s Olympic Roster Competition on Display in Squad Chosen to Face Sweden, France

AVI CREDITOR  SI It’s no secret that trimming the U.S. women’s national team player pool to 18 for the Olympics is a difficult task, and that’s evident by who Vlatko Andonovski has called on for a trip overseas for two difficult friendlies.

Of Andonovski’s 23 players chosen to face Sweden and France, 21 were part of the SheBelieves Cup–winning side that beat Canada, Brazil and Argentina last month, with Sam Mewis and Alana Cook rejoining the fold, taking the places of Casey Krueger and Jaelin Howell.The first match comes April 10 vs. Sweden—the opponent for Andonovski’s first match as U.S. coach, a 3–2 win—in Stockholm before a return to France for the first time since winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup title to play against Les Bleues in Le Havre on April 13. That latter friendly is notable, given it takes place against the last opponent to beat the U.S. at the site of that defeat. Since then, the U.S. is unbeaten in 37 matches, has won another World Cup (which included a return to Le Havre, where the U.S. beat Sweden in the group stage) and now has set its sights on Olympic gold.The matches against the two top-five teams, according to the most recent FIFA world ranking, will put the USA’s 16-game winning streak under Andonovski to the test and overlap with the start of the NWSL Challenge Cup, taking select NWSL players away from their clubs for the competition. In total, 17 of the 23 players heading to Europe are based in NWSL. “I give our larger pool of players credit for always making selections difficult, but this group going to Europe has shown consistent quality in their performances as well as in their abilities to contribute to the overall chemistry of the team,” said U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski, who indicated he’d have his Olympic choices set by mid-June on a call with reporters on Tuesday. “We still have much evaluation to do from trainings, international matches, NWSL matches and overseas club matches before selecting the Olympic team, but I’m really looking forward to these two games for what adversity they will bring. The exciting thing is that I know our players have the talent and mentality to meet those adversities with a great energy and overcome them.”

Here’s a closer look at the squad:

GOALKEEPERS

Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

This is the same trio that Andonovski took to the SheBelieves Cup and is a good indicator of who will be in the mix to head to Tokyo, with Naeher the entrenched starter and Campbell becoming the preferred No. 2 to the previous backup, Ashlyn Harris. The U.S. has kept clean sheets in 14 of the last 15 matches, including six straight.

DEFENDERS

Alana Cook (PSG), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Midge Purce (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)

The core group hardly changes here, with seven of these eight the same as those chosen for the SheBelieves Cup, the one difference being Cook stepping in for Krueger, who is out injured. Just how many defenders Andonovski will take as part of his 18-player Olympic roster remains to be seen, but versatility plays in Dunn’s and Purce’s favor, while there should be fierce competition behind Dahlkemper and Sauerbrunn for center back depth.

Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City)

Trimming from this group will be next to impossible given form, potential and experience. It’s just a very complementary group with no real weaknesses. If there is an Olympic omission from this group, Kristie Mewis is likely to be closest to the cut line, though that’s based on it being a numbers game alone. Her resurgence—she went more than six years between caps—is one of the more unique and admirable tales on the team. Macario is back in the mix amid her continued progression at Lyon, where she’s appeared in the Women’s Champions League. Her side will face Cook’s PSG in the quarterfinals. Sam Mewis, Lavelle and Dahlkemper’s Man City, meanwhile, will face Barcelona.

FORWARDS

Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Manchester United), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)

Another deep group features the return of Lloyd, who is one cap shy of hitting 300 in her illustrious career. Only Kristine Lilly and Christie Pearce Rampone have hit that mark in international soccer history (Canada great Christine Sinclair is four caps away). Andonovski is giving her and Rapinoe every chance to make another Olympic team, while Morgan will continue to keep building in her return following the birth of her daughter. She scored her first international goal as a mom in the SheBelieves Cup finale vs. Argentina. The group still doesn’t feature Tobin Heath, who remains out with an ankle injury but figures to be a good bet to go to Japan if and when she’s back.

 

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